Two good Catholic women I 'ran into' yesterday asked if I heard about the LifeSiteNews/Simcha Fisher thing. I had not.
After a concerted effort to find the salacious bits of Catholic super-girl gossip: Hilary White, super-slugger of heretics, Roman Correspondent, my colleague and long-time friend, versus Simcha Fisher, super-blogger celebrity of the clean-washed American Catholic elite at National Catholic Register...
What was this all about? This piece that Hilary wrote for LifeSiteNews. It was the first thing I came across in my attempt to find out what the great fuss was. Therefore, I read it on its own merits. By now, of course, I have read the Fisher criticisms (her's and her husband's), but even in light of their criticisms, having read it over again just now, I don't see it as a case of bad journalism. I mean, I'm not a good journalist, so maybe I am missing something. The point is, Hilary - regardless of her opinion of the pope, that is not relevant to the caliber of the article itself - wrote on something that should have been written on. And, I did not find it misleading. She pointed to a problem. I also think the pope celebrating mass with a priest that I think should be at least silenced, if not excommunicated, is a big deal that requires some explanation. I will always love the pope, this one, that one, but this is just one more event in a long line of events that has left the people wondering what is the meaning of this? If I am a theologian and I am having a hard time figuring out the mind of the pope, then that by definition points to something newsworthy.
I think it has been legitimately said that places like the National Catholic Register are running spin for the pope. Is that our responsibility as Catholics? I don't think we need to look at everyone of his acts as full of mystical and prophetic weight. That's unjustified. We can also see a someone and a bureaucracy that often makes a mess of things from the PR side of things. Benedict hardly ever did this; JP II hardly ever as well.
But what's even worse than this is the potty-mouthed screed I read on Simcha Fisher's Facebook page. It was her husband predominantly using the potty-mouth. Hilary never used that language in her article. One point for Hilary.
No, Hilary is not pro-Francis. I don't share Hilary's views. But she is one of the most intelligent people I have ever met. Even if you do not agree with her conclusions, you cannot dismiss her arguments with swears. I am speaking of her blog now, Orwell's Picnic. The only time I ever read her blog is when someone says to me, "Hey, did you see what Hilary said this time?" and only then sometimes.
But again her blog is not relevant to her article. The Fishers seemed to think it is relevant. They say, "How can LifeSite have as their Roman correspondent someone who hates the pope?" or something to that effect. Again, not relevant. If they think that journalism means painting your subject in flattering colours, I would have to disagree with them. Sometimes a hater is more objective than a lover.
BTW, people used to ask that about my Thomistic course - how can someone who hates Thomas teach him? First of all, I love St. Thomas. My greater love for St. Augustine helped me to give Thomas some much-needed impartiality in the classroom, especially useful to students who only think in terms of right-wrong, us-them, etc. That is what the Fisher Facebook thing reminded me of.
I know that over the years my passionate intellect has given good and wise people pause for thought. I am thinking of Archbishop Prendergast. Most times when I argue with him, I am wrong, but I bet I have given him a few things to think about too. Hilary gives me a few things to think about that I would rather not think about. I wish Francis was as... capable a thinker as Pope Benedict. The fact is, he is not. I am not saying he is no good, but I am saying he creates a lot more confusion.
It's amazing how quickly the fires that JP II and Benedict snuffed out are reigniting, isn't it?
This has been a year of rampant doctrinal confusion. Pope Francis might have some catching up to do.
Is it wrong for Hilary and LifeSiteNews to point to the confusion? Hardly. A news source that did not would not be worth anything.
Nearly twenty years ago when she and I lived in Halifax, she kept life interesting. She still manages to do that for me over 5000 kilometers away.
It is certain that I no longer have any interest in the Fishers. I never had much, but I would read Simcha occasionally. In their Facebook posts they embodied everything that they condemned in Hilary. There is a lot of anger there. Especially in the husband. His assertions of "righteous anger" were hardly convincing. What he thinks he has a right to is greatly overstated.